WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing to readers. Discretion is advised.
Why did the Texas school shooter have almost an hour inside a Robb Elementary classroom until he was confronted by police in Uvalde?
Authorities admitted to an error in judgement on Friday after criticism from the public in response to Tuesday’s slaughter that resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers.
“They say they rushed in,” said Javier Cazares, who raced to the school as the attack which took his daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, unfolded.
“We didn’t see that.”
Here’s a look at how the day unfolded as we understand it from the standpoint of law enforcement and other public officials so far.
May 24, sometime between 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. central daylight time (CDT)
Salvador Ramos, 18, sent three private messages on Facebook Messenger: “I’m going to shoot my grandmother,” “I shot my grandmother” and “I’m going to shoot an elementary school.”
In the days leading up to the shooting, the shooter legally bought a semiautomatic rifle on his 18th birthday at a sporting goods store in Uvalde on May 17.
He then bought 375 rounds of ammunition from an unknown vendor the day after, and then purchased a second rifle at the same sporting goods store on May 19.
11:28 a.m. CDT
After shooting his grandmother, who survived the attack with a bullet wound to the face, the gunman fled in his Ford pickup truck and eventually crashed in a ditch behind Robb Elementary School.
He jumped out of the passenger side with an AR-15-style rifle and a bag. The shooter saw two witnesses at a funeral home across the street and shot at them.
He then walked toward the school, climbed a fence into the parking lot and opened fire at the institution.
11:40 a.m. CDT
The gunman entered the school through the west side, gaining entry apparently through a door that was unlocked.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said on Friday the door was open as a result of a teacher who propped it open earlier in the morning.
He fired off more rounds after entering the building.
11:44 a.m. CDT
Authorities from multiple law enforcement agencies began to respond to the school. The gunman shot at the first officers arriving at the scene.
They moved back and took cover before approaching the suspect again.
Around this time, the shooter entered a fourth-grade classroom and opened fire, killing 19 children and two teachers, and injuring dozens more.
Officers reported hearing at least 25 gunshots from the classroom soon after arriving at the scene.
12:40 p.m. to 12:58 p.m. CDT
For roughly an hour, officers on scene called for more help, requesting tactical teams, specialty equipment, body armour, precision snipers and hostage negotiators.
They also worked to evacuate other students and teachers from the building. During this time, police were receiving 911 calls from inside the classroom.
U.S. Border Patrol tactical teams arrived and entered the school around 12:50 p.m. They engaged in a shootout with the gunman, who was holed up in the fourth-grade classroom.
At 12:58 p.m., law enforcement radio chatter said the shooter was killed and the siege was over.
Police thought suspect was barricaded and not an active shooter
The large gap in time between contact with the gunman has been under scrutiny, and was clarified on Friday.
The on-site commander believed the shooter was barricaded in a classroom and that children were not at risk, McCraw said. Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classroom for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open the room and confront the shooter.
“(The commander) was convinced at the time that there was no more threat to the children and that the subject was barricaded and that they had time to organize” to get into the classroom, McCraw said.
“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision.”
There was a barrage of gunfire shortly after the gunman entered the classroom where the massacre occurred, but shots were “sporadic” for much of the 48 minutes while officers waited outside the hallway, McCraw said.
The police thought the gunshots were meant to hold them back, or to invite them in to confront the suspect; they do not know if or how many children died during that time, McCraw said.
Throughout the attack, teachers and children repeatedly called 911 asking for help, including a girl who pleaded: “Please send the police now,” McCraw added.
— with files from The Associated Press and Reuters
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